‘These that came from the East were Gentiles, and that concerns us, for so are we. We may then look out, if we can see this star. It is ours, it is the Gentiles’ star. We may set our course by it, to seek and find, and worship him as well as they. So we come in, for “God hath also to the Gentiles set open a door of faith”, and that he would do this, and call us in, there was some small star-light from the beginning. This he promised by the patriarchs, shadowed forth in the figures of the Law, the Temple and the Tabernacle, the Prophets and the Psalms, and it is this day fulfilled. These wise men are come who not only in their own names but in ours make here their entry; came and sought after, and found and worshipped, their Saviour and ours, the Saviour of the whole world. A little wicket there was left open before, whereat divers Gentiles did come in; now the great gate set wide opens this day for all – for these here with their camels and dromedaries to enter and all their carriage. Christ is not only for russet cloaks, shepherds and such; but even grandees, great states such as these came, and when they came they were welcome to him – for they were sent for and invited by this star, their star properly.
They came a long journey, and they came an uneasy journey; they came a dangerous journey and they came now, at the worst season of the year. They stayed not their coming till the opening of the year, till they might have better weather and way, and have longer days and so more seasonable and fit to travel in. So desirous were they to come with the first, and to be there as soon as they possibly might; broke through all these difficulties, and behold, come they did.
And we, what excuse shall we have if we come not? If so short and easy a way we come not, as from our chambers hither? And these wise men were never a whit less wise for so coming; nay, to come to Christ is one of the wisest parts that ever these wise men did. And if they and we be wise in one Spirit, we will follow the same star, tread the same way, and so come at last wither they are happily gone before us.
And how shall we do that? In the old ritual of the church we find that on the cover of the canister wherein was the sacrament of His body, there was a star engraven, to shew us that now the star leads us thither, to His body there. So what shall I say now, but according as St John saith, and the star, and the wise men say “Come” and let whosoever will take of the Bread of life which came down from heaven to Bethlehem, the house of bread. Of which Bread the Church is this day the house, the true Bethlehem, and all the Bethlehem we have now left to come to for the Bread of Life – of that life which we hope for in heaven. And this our nearest coming that here we can come, till we shall by another coming ‘Come’ unto him in his heavenly kingdom. To which He grant we may come, that came to us in earth that we thereby might come to him and remain with him forever, Jesus Christ the Righteous’.
from a sermon preached on Christmas Day 1620 by Lancelot Andrewes, 1555-1626, Bishop of Winchester (1619-1626)
Fr Lee Kenyon
Priest, Husband, Father, Lancastrian, Mancunian